The ABCs of Death (2012)

The ABCs of Death (segment "I is for Ingrown")

Did any of you notice that I put this movie in the considerable part of my 2012’s year-end watchlist? There are two big reasons why I did that. First, it’s kinda cool seeing 26 horror short films wrapped in a movie. “The ABCs of Death” can be the first movie in history that make this nightmarish idea possible. Second, Timo Tjahjanto is one of the director whose short films included in this omnibus. He’s an Indonesian director. It’s a rare opportunity seeing a product of our local cinemas packaged together with many other directors from many countries and released in Hollywood. Therefore, I watched this flick and hoped that I won’t have any nightmares in my sleep after watching it.

But finally, I think “The ABCs of Death” won’t give me nightmares. Instead, it makes me sick. Well, I don’t know what I have to write as a synopsis, but in brief, there are 26 short movies, each of them representing alphabets from A to Z, and all talks about death. Here are those 26 horrors:

“A is for Apocalypse” directed by Nacho Vigalondo,
“B is for Bigfoot” directed by Adrian Garcia Bogliano,
“C is for Cycle” directed by Ernesto Diaz Espinoza,
“D is for Dogfight” directed by Marcel Sarmiento,
“E is for Exterminate” directed by Angela Bettis,
“F is for Fart” directed by Noburo Iguchi,
“G is for Gravity” directed by Andrew Traucki,
“H is for Hydro-Electric Diffusion” directed by Thomas Cappelen Malling,
“I is for Ingrown” directed by Jorge Michel Grau,
“J is for Jidai-Geki (Samurai Movie)” directed by Yudai Yamaguchi,
“K is for Klutz” directed by Anders Morgenthaler,
“L is for Libido” directed by Timo Tjahjanto,
“M is for Miscarriage” directed by Ti West,
“N is for Nuptials” directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun,
“O is for Orgasm” directed by Bruno Forzani & Helene Cattet,
“P is for Pressure” directed by Simon Rumley,
“Q is for Quack” directed by Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett,
“R is for Removed” directed by Srdjan Spasojevic,
“S is for Speed” directed by Jake West,
“T is for Toilet” directed by Lee Hardcastle,
“U is for Unearthed” directed by Ben Wheatley,
“V is for Vagitus (The Cry of A Newborn Baby)” directed by Kaare Andrews,
“W is for WTF!” directed by Jon Schnepp,
“X is for XXL” directed by Xavier Gens,
“Y is for Youngbuck” directed by Jason Eisener, and
“Z is for Zetsumetsu (Extinction)” directed by Yoshihiro Nishimura.

The ABCs of Death (segment "T is for Toilet")

In the beginning of “The ABCs of Death”, it is said that each director was given a letter of the alphabet and asked to choose a word. Then, they created their own story of death related to their words. The idea of deaths in “The ABCs of Death” come from many things. It could be about sadism (in “L is for Libido”), sex (in “O is for Orgasm”), unknown creatures (in “U is for Unearthed”), animals (in “D is for Dogfight”), or even inappropriate things like fart (in “F is for Fart”) or poo (in “K is for Klutz”). Gore and blood became the theme of deaths most directors use (and it’s kinda funny seeing no segments talk about spirituality or non-existential beings). Still, I really appreciate the creativity of all the directors with their own works. I mean, they have like tons of ideas that could be fitted in a single alphabet and work with it. The creativity is seen not only from the ideas of the story, but also from the styles, like animation (in “K is for Klutz”), first-person camera (in “G is for Gravity”), slow-motion (in “D is for Dogfight”), or even claymation (in “T is for Toilet”) for bringing horror. Adam Wingard & Simon Barrett, for more example, did their segments by showing us how they actually collaborated and made their idea for their segments in “Q is for Quack”. Each director had a full freedom to choose their own styles, and it seems that most of them use this opportunity very well. I specifically appreciate alphabet D, K, L, N, T, and X for both a fresh idea and a great execution from each directors. Especially for “T is for Toilet”, I think it is just simply awesome.

But, this opportunity could also be a problem. There are segments which I considered as bad segments—or actually really really terrible segments—that spoil the other mediocre-to-awesome segments and, eventually, throw “The ABCs of Death” itself out of the window. I have big problems with alphabet F, I, M, W, and Z. “I is for Ingrown” and “M is for Miscarriage” didn’t even take my attention at all. These two segments are either too obscure or too incomprehensible, and regarding to the 4- or 5-minute duration for each segments, I and M didn’t use it very well to bring at least a clear information about the deaths. The sickest thing is on F, W, and Z. “F is for Fart” uses fart—yes, fart, the gas that comes out of your bottom!—as the reason of death, while “W is for WTF!” did a what-the-f*ck thingy to bring a totally sick thing about fast-paced scene of blood, nudity, monsters, and any other mindf*ck thing that are so meaningless and pointless. And putting “Z is for Zetsumetsu”, a Japanese word that means extinction or whatever it is, as the last segment is a total screw-up. Seriously, remembering this segment makes me sick. Imagine what kind of horror you would get from a combination of sushi, penises, vaginas, sperms, blood, and a very destructive and awkward explanation of nations and rages. Oh, just stop it: I think I’m gonna throw up :-s

The ABCs of Death (segment "D is for Dogfight")

Done. “The ABCs of Death” is a unique showcase of horror from different minds of today’s potential directors. As an omnibus, actually “The ABCs of Death” did not put me in a developing stress and thrills with all the 26 deaths shown. That’s why I’d better use the word “showcase” to describe this flick. It is a creative package of terror, but, some segments went too creative that they ended up spoiling and downgrading the whole movie. For me, the black sheep are F, W, and Z. The rests are just good, mostly mediocre, and few are awesome.

The ABCs of Death2 out of 5 stars

 ▲  Creative showcase of horror; alphabet D, K, L, N, T, and X
 ▼  Alphabet I, M, and—most of all—F, W, and Z


Akbar Saputra

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  1. ini semacam omnibus gitu ya bro?

  2. nonton dimana?

  3. IMO paling keren itu Libido punya Timo, bukan karena dari Indonesia tapi emang paling niat banget hehe Tiga film Jepang disini malah saya suka banget, edan, konyol & emang nonjolin ciri khas mereka banget :D
    Kalo yang paling jelek buat saya M punya Ti West, keliatan males banget bikinnya, padahal dia yang paling punya reputasi diantara sutradara-sutradara lainnya

    1. Ya, "Libido"-nya Timo emang salah satu yg bikin ngeri, tapi menurut saya temanya masih sama dengan film2 Mo Brothers sebelumnya. Setuju, "Miscarriage" keliatan ga niat banget (entah di mana sisi ngerinya), tapi buat saya F, W, dan Z itu bener-bener ngerusak -___- bikin saya mual, eergh.

  4. Begitulah Timo yang emang doyan pada tema gitu, disini saya suka caranya menceritakan tentang bagaimana seks tidak terlihat sebagai sesuatu yang menyenangkan.
    Hahaha ya begitulah film-film eksploitasi Jepang khasnya Iguchi sama Nishimura. Yang jijik bakal benci, yang suka bakal jatuh cinta banget :D

    1. iya, dan saya juga jadi makin penasaran sama segmennya Timo bareng Gareth Evans di S-VHS, hehe.

      Bener, bisa jadi itu masalah selera. Tapi buat saya itu eergh banget deh -___-

  5. h is for hydro-electric diffusion menurut saya yg paling unik dan cute yet deadly ^^

    1. ya, itu juga salah satu yang menarik. trims atas komennya :)

  6. LIBIDO really rocks, film pendek mereka' Dara' bikin gw ngakak krn liat Danish shareefa lari2 bawa chain saw pake high heel -- is that possible for anyone to do? ha ha, what a fashion statement -- tp LIBIDO benar2 fresh, bikin sex bener2 unpolitically correct, I like!! Moga film Timo selanjutnya bisa lebih cutting edge lagi dan gak lagi nampilin villain yg lari2 bawa chain saw pake high heel, he he.

    1. Itu segmen "Dara" yang di antologi "Takut: Faces of Fear" ya? Kebetulan saya juga sempat mengulas film itu (jika mau baca, bisa search di halaman Review Index) dan, ya, saya sepakat bahwa "Dara" keren banget! Saya ga ngeh deh sama high heel itu, haha. Mo Brothers lagi bikin film "Killers", menurut berita terakhir, and I'm so excited about it! Thanks for your comment!

  7. Dara bagi sy gagl total gan, gak bisa respect ama yg satu itu, it is a luaghable horror. Ini saya penasaran lagi liat Rumah Dara, jujurm gak suka, thriller-nya lumayan lah, tp byk adegan yg klise dan gak orisinil. itu yg adegan Ibu Dara menghantam kepala polisi and diperlihatkan ampe penyok bukannya rip off dari adegan punya sutradara Perancis(kebetulan fave saya, Gaspar Noe di film Irreversible ya? And Danish Sahreefa kenapa diarahkan utk bicara kyk robot gitu? ok, itu karakter mw dibikin emotionless and dingin tp menurut sy gak harus straight-on kyk gitu. Rumah Dara aktgingnya ancur menurut saya. Jujur saya baru bisa angkat topi buat Timo setelah nonton Libido saja. Joko Anwar masih the best buat indoensian horror director, bagi saya mungkin Timo cenderung Wes Craven, tp Anwar cerdas seperti Michael Haneke.

    1. Wah, haha, saya belum liat Irreversible tapi memang banyak yang bilang kalo gaya Timo banyak nge-rip-off dari film-film luar. Tentang Danish, well, memang kesannya aktingnya dia agak muluk ya? Tapi akhirnya dia bisa jadi salah satu karakter villain paling memorable di film lokal.
      Joko Anwar dan Timo Tjahjanto memang dua sutradara lokal paling oke kalo urusan thriller/horror, walaupun mungkin keduanya agak kurang comparable karena gaya keduanya jelas agak beda: Joko Anwar lebih rapi dan 'ngotak' sedangkan Timo mungkin lebih berani dan 'gila'.
      Sekali lagi, thanks for your comment :)

  8. Timo menurut saya terlalu sensational dan bombastis, jujur, bisa lebih cerdas. Banjir darah di film dia tidak diselingi dgn banjir ide yg fresh. Makanya Libido bikin saya kaget krn bagi saya Libido adalah tonjokkan segar dan brilian dari Timo, sangat berani dgn eksekusi yg bikin geleng kepala krn kagum. smntara "serial" Dara bagi saya seperti permen horror saja. Rumah ara juga gagal total di bagian casting. Byk seleb yg di mainkan di situ hnya utk eye-candy saja (with respect to "The Raid", yg mengusung muka2 yg gak terlalu seleb tapi aktingnya WOW!!). Timo menurut saya hrs mencari supporting team yg lebih fresh buat project selanjutnya. Anwar is still on the top of my list and best in the game. Saya setuju, Joko Anwar rapi dlm segala hal, gak gegabah utk membiarkan penonton mengaplikasikan referensi film yg pernah ditonton utk dibawa dlm film2 dia. But, all in all, Timo sudah patut dpt jempol di dunia horror Indonesia. God knows, kita semua sudah gak butuh lebih byk sutradara yg bikin film2 dgn tema suster dan mistik gak jelas dan plagiat.

  9. Yap, that's the point! Timo jelas jauh lebih unggul dari sutradara lokal lainnya yg masih berkutat pada topik yang itu-itu lagi. Di tangannya, seks dan horor mampu berubah menjadi hiburan yg keren, jauh dari kesan murahan ala film, film horor-seks lokal yg entah kenapa masih terus saja dibuat.